Koz named town attorney; timing of Thomas’ resignation questioned

Former Riverhead Town supervisor Bob Kozakiewicz was officially named town attorney Tuesday at an annual salary of $106,500, which is slightly less than outgoing town attorney Dawn Thomas was earning.

The board also appointed another attorney, William Duffy, to a deputy attorney post at a salary of $88,000.

Mr. Kozakiewicz held the town attorney post from 1996 to 1997.

Ms. Thomas, who has served as town attorney since 2000, earned $109,474 in 2010. She is stepping down to take a job as a law clerk for state Supreme Court Judge Ralph Gazzillo.

Mr. Kozakiewicz was town supervisor for two terms, from 2000 to 2003, and was on the board that hired Ms. Thomas. But it was the resolution to accept Ms. Thomas’ resignation that met with some opposition Tuesday in Town Hall.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio questioned why Ms. Thomas’ resignation was as of Jan. 2, rather than Dec. 31. She said this may entitle her to additional benefits as a 2011 employee that she would not have received had she resigned as of the end of 2010.

Supervisor Sean Walter said he only received Ms. Thomas’ resignation letter on Dec. 30 and the resignation was as of Jan. 2, although he acknowledged that officials knew of her intention to retire.

“You can either accept this or you can fire her as of Dec. 31,” Mr. Walter told the board.

He noted that Ms. Thomas has served the town loyally for 11 years and that the town would still need to consult with her on legal issues in 2011. In addition, he said she’d already worked the two days in 2011.

Ms. Giglio eventually voted to accept the resignation, although Councilman John Dunleavy opposed it.

Town finance administrator Bill Rothaar said the additional two days in 2011 would not entitle Ms. Thomas to any additional sick or personal days, but it may entitle her to additional vacation days, although he said this would depend on her individual contract, of which he did not know the specifics.

As for Mr. Kozakiewicz, he and James Saladino, who is the head of the town Conservative Party and who resigned as of Dec. 31, were hired as part-time town attorneys in early 2010, at an annual salary of $44,000 each. They were hired to replace a full-time attorney who had left and was making $100,483.

At the time, some had questioned why the town part-time attorneys were getting 75 percent of their health insurance paid by the town, but Mr. Walter had countered that the town was paying less for the two part-timers, each working 20-hour weeks, than they were for a full-time attorney working 35 hours a week.

Under the agreement approved Tuesday, Mr. Kozakiewicz and Mr. Duffy will serve as full-time employees and have 100 percent of their health insurance paid by the town.

The change in attorneys was basically the only major revision approved by the Town Board in its 2011 organizational meeting Tuesday.

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